The Kid Who Would Be King definitely has a specific audience in mind.
Who that audience is might be a little narrow, but at the end of the day I dare you to watch it and not be uplifted. If this movie had one message, it was hope.
While we were waiting to go into the theater (we always arrive early to ensure we get a comfortable butt-groove on) I was in the lobby doing that thing where you eat popcorn out of the bucket like a frog with your tongue hoping nobody sees you. As the people began to exit the theater I relented to using my hands to eat my corn while I tried to gauge the expressions of those who had just seen the movie. The adults, adolescents and little children were ambivalent, but the pre-teen kids were literally jumping and skipping. I asked a woman who was leaving if she enjoyed it. She said it was “good” and “like a Harry Potter movie.” I’ll give her good, but Harry Potter it ain’t, despite its unabashed British-ness.
Here’s the deal. Was it the best movie ever? No. The villain lacked nuance, Merlin’s powers were inexplicably time-sensitive, the method of magic was exhausting (really, at least Harry Potter recognized the simple elegance of a “swish and flick” of a wand) and the animation looked like it belonged in a video game…from 2006. But it was a great movie and, despite being based on the Arthurian mythos we are all somewhat familiar with, it was utterly and completely original, and originality has to count for something in these days of sequels, remakes and cinematic universes. What’s more, that freshness extended far beyond the plot and included the relationships built between the characters. The result? It was magic.
We saw a world so bleak that magic had no choice but return.
We saw how bravery and kindness can turn hearts.
We were reminded of what “chivalry” meant.
We watched a new generation of leaders come to understand the importance of unity.
Most importantly, we got to see Patrick Stewart play a wizard.
As fantastical as the movie was, it was very real. A kid dealing with his bullies, a parent preaching the virtues of honesty while shielding their child from some painful truths about life, a friend who always has your back…these are all things we can relate to no matter how old we are. With that in mind, while this movie was definitely written for the eight-to-ten year old boy demographic, it was done so in an adult way that is sure to make them feel a little more grown up by the end. To paraphrase Stewart’s Merlin, “there’s a wise, old soul in every child, and a little child in every adult.”
On that note, I am a huge Patrick Stewart fan. So much so that in lieu of a reception my husband took me to see him perform “Waiting for Godot” with Ian McKellen on Broadway immediately following our wedding. Anyone who knows me understands that my entire morale compass is based on “WWJLPD” (if you can’t figure that out, you wouldn’t get it anyway). I’m not sure this is going to be his next blockbuster franchise, but it was great to see him impart his inherent wisdom to a new audience and I’ve got my fingers crossed.
Morals and Patrick Stewart aside, the best part was the Lady of the Lake. I don’t even care that she didn’t have any lines, action, or a body. She was my favorite character, hands down. No pun intended.
To sum up The Kid Who Would Be King, it was inspiring. How much so? When I was little my mom bought me an old, tattered book about King Arthur at a garage sale that now sits on a bookshelf in my guest room (see below). I think it was originally stolen—there is a Dewey Decimal number written on the spine that suggests it actually belonged in a library. I always thought the cover was pretty, but I never read it. That changes tonight, thanks to this movie!
Definitely go see it!